Chapter 112: And here comes the Train-ing.

There was some unease when he waved his hand and the earth shifted, but in comparison to the first time, it was decidedly less alarmed.

With the notable exception of Bernadetta, Goetia noted, who looked as though she would have rather been any other place than right here.

But that was the expression the girl always wore, thus it was ignored.

Once the Golems were assembled and ready, he stepped back and turned to the students with a sweeping gaze over them. Without even speaking a single word, his eyes turned next towards Hanneman and nodded towards him.

The elderly human took it as his cue to speak, more so when Goetia retreated to be stood beside the Black Eagles, barely paying attention to how some of them shifted to be closer to him than others. He did not need to turn his eyes to see which had opted to silently move closer to him.

Nor did he need to look to feel the rather buffoon-like grin on the face of Caspar to know that the boy had taken the training as some sort of sign that Goetia had high expectations for him.

There was little deeper meaning to it.

And Goetia had found it cathartic when he spent the hours punching in the teenagers face.

"This battle test shall be a test of your teamwork when confronted in a more open ground." Hanneman began, waving a hand to the Golems. "The terms remain the same as they did in the previous altercation. There is no time limit and you may have as long as you wish to plan…at least for the first bout."

The face of the man shifted after that, his arms folded behind his back.

"After that, you shall face them without the chance for planning."

It was the plan they had concocted for the group, one battle to take place with time enough to plan and the other to take place where they were not granted such mercy. Though Goetia was sure that there would be quite a difference between the two of them, but what he and Hanneman had neglected to mention was that he could summon reinforcements at any time.

After all, battles were hardly predictable.

And one had to be aware in the event of unexpected variables.

Though Goetia had been unable to simulate any enemies capable of flight at this current time, but he would not allow it to remain that way. With a few choice spells, he could conjure up some illusion of a wyvern if the need arose for that sort of tactic.

It doubtless would.

The Golems, numbering twenty in total, had them at over a two to one advantage.

Hannema nodded his head to the group, then paced away from them and off towards the safety of the side.

Goetia turned his head to Edelgard, her eyes lingered on the golems before she took in a short breath and started to speak.

"We stand in the open field, therefore with their numbers, they could flank us with ease."

Sound assessment.

"We shall need to force them into a narrower path." She announced, then turned towards himself and Linhardt, her eyes flickered between the two of them for a few moments before she spoke. "Could you form a wall of ice strong enough to get them into a neck, forcing them to approach by at least three?"

Goetia nodded his head, such a spell would be trivial for him, Linhardt did the same as he visibly fought back a yawn.

The urge to curse the boy into consciousness struck him at that moment, but he buried it and let it settle. There was no need for such hasty actions at the moment.

"Those stone guys are pretty strong." Caspar spoke up, gesturing towards them with a frown on his face and unease in his gaze. "Even if we force them into a narrow path, it is just ice at the end of the day and I don't think they will get cold. Sooner or later, they'd force their way out…or just turn around and run away."

"Split them up?"

The eyes of the group turned to Petra as she stepped forwards, remaining unbuckled as she beheld the group and speaking with clarity in her words.

"When the predators are chasing prey, they make panic in the centre of the party. It splits them up and makes them simple pickings."

Or clear as her manner of speech would allow, that was to say.

"Would that work on men of stone?" Ferdinand asked, though it took Goetia a moment to realise the question was directed for himself.

Turning his gaze to the boy, he watched them for a moment before he replied.

"The Golems are instructed to react with simple manners. It would depend upon the manner of distraction you form. Though that is not to say that the tactics of Petra are without merit A unit of knights is little different from a pack. Separate their number and the cohesion will fail, panic will be sown through the ranks and they shall become easier to defeat with that advantage. Against the golems? It would lower the number you need to fight, but it would need to be handled swiftly."

Petra looked somewhat torn between vindication and disappointment.

Ferdinand merely nodded his head up and down, a thoughtful look upon him as he patted the side of his horse.

Goetia remained silent as the planning and deliberation continued, content to watch as suggestions were offered and then countered with different thoughts and feelings on the matter. Though with some notable exceptions to people offering, most of which came from Bernadetta.

She had remained silent, tellingly so, since the planning began.

His eyes lingered on the side of her head for the most part, watching as her gaze dipped low to the ground and she plucked at the string of her bow as if it were a harp.

When her eyes did dare themselves to rise up, she was not long in making contact with his own.

They dropped back to the ground less than a second later and did not come up again.

Goetia turned his head to the group and spoke up. "There is, perhaps, another solution that you have neglected to visit upon."

The conversation dragged to a halt, looks were aimed at him with some intrigue.

Edelgard was the first to speak, brow raised and lips thin. "You have some other suggestion for us then? I am not so optimistic to believe that you would hand us the answer, however."

She was perceptive.

"Correct, I will merely point you in the direction of one who might have something to offer." His eyes turned and without further words, he aimed their gazes onto the lone individual, still with her eyes focused upon her feet.

Perhaps it was the silence or perhaps it was some sixth sense the girl possessed, but Bernadetta slowly brought her head back up, whereupon she was greeted by the faces of her peers and himself. The reaction was as he expected it to be, her eyes widened and her jaw snapped shut behind her lips with an audible crack.

The blood and heat rushed away from her face, leaving her visage gaunt and pale.


Such a small sound escaped her, like that of an injured animal.

Edelgard turned to him with a hint of disapproval in her eyes, perhaps assuming that he was looking to mock her.

"Bernadetta." He spoke before anyone could get the chance to question him, drifting his gaze to the girl and looking down upon her. She quickly turned her frightened gaze onto him - he tried to ignore the way it made him feel ill when she looked at him that way, but it was difficult - and brought up his left hand. "When you are faced with situations you do not like, what do you do?"

A quiet stammer was her response, eyes fluttering from face to face before she blurted out the answer. "I hide in my room!"

Goetia nodded his head up and down, then returned his eyes towards the group.

Edelgard remained unaware of what he was alluding to, but he noted that Hubert narrowed his eyes and then cupped his chin. Clearly he was becoming aware of what exactly that Goetia was alluding to.

Not even a moment later, the tall boy leaned down to Edelgard and whispered something in her ear before leaning back. The heiress remained stone faced, but he saw the creasing of her brows as she first looked to Bernadetta and then towards himself before she rolled her jaw, slowly nodding her head up and down.

"Hubie." Dorothea spoke with a sweet tone of voice. "Far be it from me to demand you show me the same level of attention you show Edie, but would it be acceptable if you were to make an exception just this once and let us all know what you're whispering about, if you would be so kind?"

Hubert's lips grew thin and curled up, a faint smile on his lips that appeared to be as friendly as one would imagine a mouse would view the exposed teeth of a cat.

"Bernadetta hides away in her room and forces us to come to her." Edelgard explained, drumming her fingers along the head of her axe as it lay in the ground. Pursing her lips for a moment before she made a small noise. "You would suggest we alter the battle into one of a siege? That would certainly make our problems easier, but what difference does it have when compared to making a chokepoint?"

"It is dependent on how you structure it." Goetia explained, waving the arm. "With myself and Linhardt, we could construct simple walls made of ice that could surround the group, though they would not delay the golems for long, it would be more than enough time to react. But the chokepoint is just as viable an option."

It was clear to him that the heiress was debating it, her free hand moved up and pinched at her chin.

"What of a combination of the two?" Caspar spoke up, hand briefly raised only to be lowered down as he stepped forwards. "All castles have gates, so if we make the walls and then make a space for the golems to enter, we can split up forces between guarding the walls and guarding the entry."

Goetia inclined his head to the boy silently, the only proof that he considered the words to be sensible.

An odd thing.

What was it that humans called it?

Beating sense into someone?

Perhaps they were not far off, given that it had been him who had beaten the boy numerous times.

"Creating fortifications from ice, while certainly helpful, won't do us much good against others who can wield magic."

Linhardt spoke up, drawing eyes to himself.

Fitting that his own were closed, arms folded over his chest and looking to all others as though he had fallen asleep on his feet.

Despite that, he continued to speak.

"Doubtless it would delay those who cannot use magic for a time, but if someone were to throw some fire spells or even a thunder, then we would have shards of ice flying into our ranks before we could even react…"

Cracking open a single eye, the boy turned it towards them.

"But that's just because I don't want to get hit in the head by flying ice. I'm of the same opinion as Petra. Splitting them up into smaller groups and then fighting them with overwhelming force sounds as though it would be much easier."

Goetia re-evaluated Linhardt once he finished speaking. Though it was doubtless his words were born of a desire to avoid drawn out conflict, they were not without merit. Not even due to a fire spell, a sufficiently powerful gale spell would tear through the ice wall with time and effort, turning their own defences into weapons to be used against them.

"He speaks with sense." Nodding his head towards Linhardt, Goetia felt a frown creep upon his lips. In any other situation, this would have been much simpler, but evidently there was more to this than just dominating with sheer power. It was not an experience he was accustomed to. "But…hmmm…luring them into your own domain is worth considering. Especially with one experienced with making traps."

Petra realised swiftly he was speaking about her, the girl blinked and straightened herself before speaking up. "The snares I make are for death-killing. I am not used to trapping…but I could make some differences to them for the not death."

He silently gestured towards her.

Edelgard looked ponderous for a moment, then cupped her chin and glanced towards Linhardt with a glint in her eyes. Seconds ticked past, then she lowered the hand from her face and dropped it onto her hip. "I find myself agreeing with both Linhardt and Petra on this matter. Facing a series of smaller groups that we might overwhelm is significantly easier than facing one united front."

"And how would you suggest separating them?" He was not dismissing her idea, merely curious as to how she would proceed with it.

She pointed towards him. "Both yourself and Dorothea are capable of casting thunder…Striking the centre of their ranks would force them to separate to avoid further spells would they not?"

A beat.

"Provided they have some semblance of survival instinct?"

Goetia nodded once. "They have been created with the basic instinct to avoid damage to their bodies. A simple order that they cannot enact their greatest function if they have suffered harm beforehand. They will attempt to avoid attacks."

Edelgard nodded, satisfied with his words. "Striking the centre of their forces with a large barrage of spells should split them up. Then doing so again…after that, we might create the walls of ice to separate them and prevent them from joining up. After that, we can charge the individual groups and deal with them swiftly."

Her eyes looked around. "Are there any others who would have some manner of suggestion to this plan?"

There was a reigning silence.

Then Ferdinand stepped forwards, spear pointed to the ground and sending the head into the dirt.

With nary a single sound, he carved out a line in the earth and then several more until it looked as though he had drawn a stitch into the earth, pulling the spear back and out of the earth.

"If we flanked around on the right side…"

Dragging the spear across, he drew it into the right side of the line and thrust down.

"Then we would be able to deal with them, but depending on how long it takes…the stone men on the far left could either go around the walls during that time or breach them while we face these ones…in which case, our plan would run into a small problem."

He hummed in a low tone but said nothing in response, that was another issue they would face.

But he had offered what little help he was going to at this point, it was for the rest of them to decide what path they were going to take.

Taking a minute step backwards, he separated himself from the conversation as the planning continued. Ensuring that he was paying attention to what was being said, his eyes danced from speaker to speaker as they offered their own little thoughts and feelings before they finally decided on what manner of plan they were going to go with.

Near enough six minutes had elapsed since they first began.

It did not bode well for the second test, especially if this was any indication.

They would need to learn the ability to make plans in the moment they were needed. It was something that Fujimaru had been able to develop, thus he was sure that with enough time, Edelgard would doubtless be able to do the same thing.

Unless he was allowing his bias to cloud his mind once more.

That was a possibility.

Drawn from his thoughts by the sound of silence, the eyes of the group turned on him as one, Edelgard gave a single nod of the head towards him, indicating that they were now prepared.

A mental command passed through his mind and towards the golems.

They readied themselves as one, bodies growling as stone pushed against stone. Within moments, they started a uniform march getting closer and closer towards them.

"Goetia, Linhardt, Dorothea. You take up the front."

…He found it a touch insulting to be ordered around, but he had expected as such. Yet even if Edelgard was no Solomon, she was still human and the mere thought of taking orders from a human was still…a bitter pill for him to swallow, as they saying would have gone.

Regardless, he heeded the command and with Dorothea and Linhardt flanking him on either side, he stepped past and into the vanguard as the golems marched closer and closer.

Trembles shot through the earth, the marching step of the golems grew louder as their owners drew closer. It would not be long until they were upon them, perhaps a little under a minute if he was to avoid complex calculations.

And if he wasn't?

It was thirty five seconds.

And then those seconds started to wind down with no movements behind ordered further. With a stoic face, he watched the golems close in one them with commands being given from Edelgard. While he was confident that she would act, it was clear that the feelings of the others were less assured of their leader.

He saw the slight tensing of Dorothea's shoulders and the way her boots turned a little, as though preparing to charge off at a moment's notice.

Much the same was spied from Linhardt.

The closest golem locked onto him, eyes burning a brilliant crimson before it launched itself forwards, shifting from a march into a run and closing the distance. The others not far behind, halving the time they had left.


He reacted first, sweeping his hand to the sky and watching the circle form before his palm. There was little more than a millisecond of delay before the stream of lighting descended from the skies and crashed into the centre of the golems. Stone and earth churned up at the detonation, the proximity meant that he felt the rumble of the impact as well.

It was barely two seconds later that the second thunder fell on account of Dorothea, but slower than his own and striking the empty space where his had been.

The result was expected, the Golems reacted to their programing and moved either side of the explosion in an effort to avoid being struck in the same spot.


Goetia switched spells and turned to the right, thrusting his left arm forwards and feeling the pulse of magical energy. The air twisted and froze, it was as if a mountain of ice grew from the ground, tearing through the grass and charging forwards, spikes jutting out from every direction as it travelled.

The frozen wall pushed through the centre of the right flank, splitting the golems into two seconds.

A swift glance to his left and he watched Linhardt mirror his gesture with a much slower pace.

Once again, he was proving to be too swift for his allies.

A problem that would need to be addressed, their casting was much too slow.

Though, perhaps he was expecting far too much from them?

Juveniles who lacked his proficiency and skill, perhaps it said more than he was expecting them to match his casting speed and response times? Or perhaps he had forgotten the sorts of individuals he was going to have as his allies and had merely made a small misstep. Either way, he would need to accommodate for that in the future.

Edelgard and Caspar charged forwards, both Petra and Bernadetta loosened their arrows towards the golems and landed some glancing blows against them, but neither had managed to land a fatal blow on his constructs.

Ferdinand clipped at his horse and galloped forwards, bounding right past the Vanguard and immediately throwing himself into the thick of the golems on the right flank.

He was unsure as to what the intention behind the movement was, but if it was to throw them into greater discord, then the plan of the boy had worked quite well. The golems split their attention between the charging axe wielders and the cavalry, a third moved off to fight Ferdinand alone whereas the others reorganised themselves to fight both Edelgard and Caspar.

The former swung her axe the second she was close enough, striking out the legs of the golem immediately. Then she did something unexpected and moved away from it. His initial confusion was answered rather swiftly, Hubert threw the fireball directly into the wounded golem and destroyed it, sending burnt and shattered lumps of clay into the air.

Even in this situation, it seemed as though those two still worked well.

Or rather, Edelgard could rely on Hubert to deal with the enemies that she crippled.

Without looking, he swept his hand across and unleashed the gale spell, tearing through the ground and ripping his own target in half.

His mind still working on tactics he could employ that would encourage Edelgard to actually finish off her enemies, as opposed to leaving it to someone else to take care of. There was a great many things that could occur and removing one's eyes from an enemy or allowing them even a split second to recover was never prudent.

It was unwise.

Hubert might not always be in a position to provide that support.

A bellowing shout and the sound of shattered earth dragged his focus into the present and away from his thoughts. Blinking his gaze to see Caspar swing his axe down above his head like a warhammer and into the forearm of a golem, it responded by sweeping the pinned arm to the side and sending the boy head over heels and flat onto the ground.

Goetia curled his lip at the display.

Caspar alerted the golem with the warcry.

Because of course he would do something like that.

Another series of arrows pelted themselves against the stone body and chipped away parts of it, not that the stone creation noticed as it shifted its attention. One of three that remained on this side with the other one engaged in a battle with Ferdinand.

A thundering crack to his left.

Then came a few more in rapid success, deep splits opened up among the ice wall as the golems started to pound their way through the barrier. He estimated that they would - at present speeds - breach the wall within the next forty seconds. Which meant the Black Eagles had about that long to defeat the golems.

His hand swept out.

Ice formed around the feet of the golem Caspar had been fighting and locked it in place, his hand tightened into a fist as more ice solidified and kept the construct from moving. He dismissed it and moved on. Watching as Dorothea and Hubert fended off the final two.

As expected, now that the golem was stationary, the arrows of Bernadetta and Petra were far more accurate.

One striking the joint at the elbow, shattering it and dropping the limb to the ground, the other caught the golem where the neck would be on a normal person. The impact registered as a fatal blow, the magic holding the golem together dissipated at the same time he ended the spell and shattered the ice.

The useless debris clattered to the ground.

"Form u-"

The wall shattered, the first golem charged through the breach and threw a clumsy punch towards Edelgard midway through her command.

The heiress rolled out of the way of the strike.

Her eyes swept to him and then pointed towards the golem, eyes darting between it and the wall.

Ah, he could see what she meant.

He stepped forwards, gathering the wind into his hand and then thrusting it forwards.

The magical circle in his palm howled, the wind tore from his grasp and surged forwards as a wall, slamming into the body of the golem and sending it careening backwards through the air, already tearing strips of clay from the body.

It smashed into the next golem to climb through the breach, the two of them becoming nothing more than clouds of dust.

Glowing orbs burst through the cloud of remains, the next construct charged into the fray and locked onto the closest target.

Edelgard held up the flat of her axe, skipping backwards as the punch smashed into the head of the weapon.

"Lady Edelgard!"

Hubert immediately broke away from the battle with his own golem.

Linhardt picked up the slack quickly, attacking the golem as it turned on the retreating Hubert and landing several wind spells upon the construct. It staggered with each one and then let out a grinding sound before rushing the boy. Moving at speeds he clearly was not prepared for, it backhanded him in the gut and knocked him to the ground.

A deep wheezing grunt echoed out from Linhardt as he rolled on the ground, clutching at his gut.

Goetia supposed that this was the plan already coming to pieces.

Fire struck the head of the golem and tore it away from the body.

Dorothea moved to the downed Linhardt and quickly started to drag him away.

Movement in the corner of his eye.

Goetia stepped backwards, the arm of the golem passed harmlessly in front of his face, the only impact was the slight rush of wind which ruffled his hair. His left hand pressed flat against the body of the golem before. It barely managed a turn before he let the magical energy flow freely.

The ice spell tore the body apart in an instant, frozen pillars burst from every crack and crevice, the glow of the eyes faded and it was only the spell itself that kept the golem in any semblance of its original form.

Another breach in the wall opened up, several golems poured through it.

A buildup of magical energy, thunder slammed down upon them in the blink of an eye, turning them to smoked remnants.

He did not frown, despite the temptation, because it was a waste of a thunder which should not have occurred. Turning his head to see Dorothea with her hand stretched out towards him, the glow of her palms fading away. Damning evidence that she had been the one responsible for the actions.

Goetia turned back and snapped his fingers, his palms glowed and he swept out his arm before him, trailing behind a clumsy barricade of ice. He turned and looked at Bernadetta and Petra, locking eyes with the pair of them and jerking his head towards the cover he had created for them.

Not bothering to see if they were actually going to pay attention to his silent command, he stepped around and diverted his attention back to Hubert and Edelgard, now joined by Ferdinad as they fought to contain the breach.

Goetia frowned, glancing about for Caspar.

He found them a moment later, still trading blows with the last golem of the original right flank.

Clicking his tongue, he swung his arm forwards.

Magical energy crackled between his finger tips, then condensed as the glow of the circle spread across this palm. Tracking the movements of the golem, he waited until it was in the most optimal position and far enough away from Caspar that he could loosen the spell.

Caspar rolled to the side, avoiding a downwards punch.

Goetia felt his arm shunt with a touch of recoil as the stream of glowing light burst from his grasp, clearing the distance in the span of a single breath and striking the shoulders of the golem. It tore through the body, spinning it about and ripping it apart from the neck downwards, the remains were carried by the thoron beam, raining into the dirt.

A rather loud shout of alarm came from Caspar, the boy shot him a rather affronted look before shouting out.

"Hey! I had him!"

Goetia resisted the urge to scowl.

It was hardly some manner of competition.

Even if it were, he was certain that by this point in time, he would almost certainly have been winning, given the amount of effort that he had been putting into keeping the class from being overwhelmed.

…Had he given them too grand of a task as an opening battle?

No, surely not.

An explosion of violet and purple light, Goetia turned his head to see both Hubert and Edelgard stumble away from the ice wall as another explosion heralded the arrival of reinforcements. Likely from the left flank having fought their way through the wall - or gone around it - and moving to enter the next gap.

Hubert let out another miasma into the thick of the golems, dismantling one of them in the process, but the others proved their ingenuity.

Especially when they hurled the remnants of their deceased brethren towards the boy, who quickly ducked behind the ice wall. Only to be thrown to the ground with a grunt of pain as the debris shattered the cover and struck the boy in the shoulder. Hubert groaned and rolled in visible agony on the floor.

Goetia pointed to the boy and clenched his fist.

The teleportation spell dragged him back, dropping him behind the cover of the archers.

Edelgard noticed it and shot him a somewhat thankful look, but he paid it little heed.

Marching forwards and holding out his hand, forming a fresh wall of ice in the gap to cover it up.

"That will provide you with some small time, though not long." He informed them, lowering his hand and turning his eyes towards the heiress, his brows pinched together. "The plan will need alteration."

Edelgard wet her lips, nodding her head up and down, turning and jolting at the heavy crack of the golems throwing their bodies into the ice wall. Each impact sent a shuddering tremor through the frozen palisade and formed a large crack through the surface, another broke away fragments on their side of the wall and showed the vague silhouette of the golems growing closer with each strike.

She looked to him and then cupped her chin, then pointed towards the spot where the golems were congregating.

"We need to attack first, knock them back in the chaos."


He turned his eyes towards Dorothea in a deliberate fashion.

Edelgard did the same, then shouted out to the girl.

"Dorothea! We need a Thoron spell here!"

The brunette looked to them for a brief moment, then nodded her head and parted away from Linhardt, Caspar taking over in helping the boy to his feet and walking him away to the cover with Hubert and the others.

Both Goetia and Edelgard stepped back as Dorothea moved past them, closing her eyes and sweeping her hands about. Golden mist formed around her palms as she moved, with a final spin she swept herself forwards and thrust her hand forwards, the large circle formed in front of her.

Then the space before her screamed as light stretched itself forwards and slammed into the wall, a split second of resistance and then denotation. Chunks of ice burst outwards and the golems in the immediate vicinity of the attack were pulled apart at the joint.

Goetia followed the attack with one of his own, granting the golems no reprieve.

The second the thoron spell came to an end, his own activated and thunder dropped from the sky, erasing the entire section of the wall and filling the air with mist, dirt and dust. The remains of the golems clung to their clothes Goetia marched forwards and swept his hand across, the gale spell banished aside the cloud of dust and cleared the battlefield for them to see.

"Ferdinand, you first. Get them to chase you."

Edelgard ordered, this time far from being a desperate shout.

A snort from his horse, then the boy carried himself and his mount through the gap.

There was little indication as to whether the plan had worked or not - given he was hampering his own senses - but taking cover beside the entrance with Edelgard and Caspar opposite him, he waited for at least fifteen seconds before the Heiress nodded her head to him and was the first to charge through the hole, with Caspar being a close second.

He glanced at Dorothea, who had formed up behind him, and then nodded his head once before giving pursuit to the initial fighters. Moving through the cloud of dust and steam and towards the sound of crunching earth and shrieking metal, the thunder of hoofbeats still ringing in the air and shouts of Ferdinand accompanied a crash of stone and metal.

Goetia locked onto the sight of Edelgard and Caspar immediately, the two of them making quick work of the golems who had already turned their backs to pay attention to Ferdinand, making them easy targets for the pair of axe wielders.

Instead, he focused not upon those who were about to be destroyed, and upon the golems who were still close by and had not been distracted by the charge of the calvary.

Dorothea stepped past him, a rush of heat and then the hiss of flames, the orb of fire burst from her palm and rocketed into the shoulder of the first target, rending the left arm from the body and sending it into a stumble.

His own wind spell split it in half.

By that point, he could estimate they had defeated half of the golems, perhaps more or perhaps less.

Either way, it was clear that they had found some momentum, despite the problems in the initial battle.

Though one thing was doubtless to him.

Without his support, they would have been left in a precarious situation.

It would require work.

Light danced before his eyes and then twisted through the air, the sagittae closed in on the next target and the moment it struck, it was reduced to rubble.

He paused before casting his next spell and stepped back, allowing the others to take up the work of defeating the golems. He was sure it had reached a point that they could manage such a thing. Instead he worked on analysing them once more and confirmed his earlier assessment.

Pacing to the right, he moved aside of the hole just as the reinforcements arrived.

As he predicted, the battle turned dramatically in favour of the Black Eagles within the next minute, a combination of their initial surprise attack through the breach and his own well placed efforts and keeping the golems spaced apart with his spells, they had a much simpler time of it during this battle.

But still.

He could not ignore the faults and he knew that Hanneman would have seen them as well.

The Black Eagles slumped together on the ground, some more physically exhausted than others.

Goetia moved away from them and towards Hanneman as the professor approached, the elder man giving a single nod of the head before he addressed his class.

"I believe my first words should be congratulations for claiming a victory in this training battle." He began, voice light and pleased.

As expected, it was a tone that did not linger for very long. Indeed, the moment he had finished his sentence, the face of the Professor shifted from approving to frowning in an instant, though it could not be said to be a malicious frown, at least.

"Though I am certain you do not need myself to tell you how close you came to suffering a loss. Not that I am accusing you of being lesser than your peers." Raising a hand, the man swept it across all of them, exhaling after he finished the movement.

"However, I understood the essence of your plan. Separating a superior force into more manageable pieces and then dealing with them in stages. It was an admittedly simple plan, but it is an effective one."

A beat, Hanneman folded his arms behind his back.

"Provided that it can be utilised. Unfortunately, I could see that the moment the battle started, the majority of you started fighting as individuals in a group, rather than a team. Though I will give some credit to young Miss Bernadetta and Miss Petra, they provided ample support as the archers…though they were hampered by moving targets."

Goetia nodded his head from behind the man, but that was admittedly his own doing which caused it.

That being said, he had altered the composition of the outer and inner layer of the stone.

It would have been no stronger than steel armour.

"Back to the matter at hand, the plan to separate the golems and then fight them was one I will commend you on. Indeed, it worked and they were broken up rather handily in the initial bombardment. Yet when it came to fighting them…"

Bringing his hand up, the Professor gestured towards Ferdinand.

"You, as a single cavalryman, were out of position. You made good efforts to keep the golems from initially forming up in the group, but you charged ahead of your own support and then lingered on the sidelines while Caspar and Edelgard separated and began their own battles when they should have worked as a team."

The man folded his arms over his chest.

"Which leads me to Hubert…who abandoned his own teammate in the middle of fighting. I can understand your duty to Edelgard, but I must press upon you the importance of your duty to your classmates. A result of your sudden actions caused injury to Linhardt and had that been during the mock battle…"

A shake of the head after trailing off left little to the imagination.

"In essence, you need to work as a more cohesive team in future. Your plan likely would have succeeded if you had been working with one another. With an operation such as this, speed is of the essence and you failed to defeat your opponents before the arrival of their allies."

Hanneman gestured towards Goetia.

"And the contributions of our guest were doubtless paramount, which is not what he is here for. He is here for support…but perhaps it speaks more for the difficulty of the task itself and pushing too swiftly…"

A shake of the head, Hanneman lowered his hand and gave a light smile. "But we shall have time to correct these faults. Take some rest before we begin the next training exercise, I shall speak with Goetia."

And like that, Hanneman stepped away from his class and approached him, Goetia glanced past the man and towards the Black Eagles who were now looking amongst one another and descending into whispers.

"What did you notice from the battle?"

Goetia pondered the question for a moment, then replied. "A lack of communication during battle itself. Impulsive actions which put individuals in danger and otherwise some essence of competitiveness. I support your own assessment. It was not so much of a team as much as it was a group of skilled individuals."

Hanneman nodded his head up and down, then raised a brow with an almost sly smile.

"I am sensing that there is more to your assessment, however." The old man spoke.

Goetia rolled his jaw and then gave a single nod. "They adapted swiftly to the problems, I shall not understate the usefulness of that. Edelgard's decision to use Ferdinand as bait to divide the attention of the remaining golems was swift thinking and during those last minutes of the battle, they appeared to work together more efficiently…but by that point, victory would have been achieved even if they did not alter their fighting style."

In essence, it was too little and too late to be valuable.

Though perhaps it would contribute to their next efforts.

Hanneman nodded his head, a pleasing smile upon his face. "I noticed such as well. I was relieved to see there was some element of teamwork within them, but you are quite right. It is only the beginning and, as you said, it was much too late to be considered a deciding change."

The man rolled his lips. "Though your own efforts…I feel as though you encouraged them too greatly."

Goetia frowned, but did not reply.

He could not deny the assessment of the man, they had relied on him for some of their more complicated spells and actions.

"Is that a criticism?"

Hanneman shook his head, "No, merely an observation. But I would like to observe their efforts without you being present."

"You wish for me to remain on the sidelines for the next battle?"

"Yes." A nod of the head and a swift reply. "It would work to measure their skills. Especially as the next battle is one where quick thinking is paramount to victory. Considering that you are strong enough to turn the tide of the engagement with a few waves of your hand…"

Goetia nodded his head. "I agree…Which is why I shall decide on a different method of engaging them this time around."

His words had an immediate effect, raised brows from the Professor but little else.

Turning his head from the old man, he watched the Black Eagles.

"They are familiar with the abilities of the golems by this point, but such opponents will rarely be as uniform or as simple. Especially not when they are battling the Golden Deer or the Blue Lions…reflecting the composition and abilities of those houses is paramount for training."

"Do you have a method?"

Goetia slowly nodded his head. "I do."

Edelgard kept herself silent as she watched the conversation between Hanneman and Goetia come to a close.

Whatever had been discussed was likely going to play a part in the training to come.

She mentally grimaced over the performance.

Yes, they had won.

But it had been sloppy, careless and rather chaotic.

They had a plan which worked, but planning beyond that aside from overwhelming the golems…she had overestimated the Black Eagles, or perhaps she had underestimated the strength of the golems. Either way, the charge to destroy them quickly had not ended well and they had been able to reinforce themselves before she could destroy their right flank.

Had Goetia not destroyed the reinforcements when they initially came through, then they would have been overwhelmed instead.

Perhaps if they had focused on one golem at a time and destroyed it with sheer numbers before moving onto the next one?

She closed her eyes and exhaled.

It was hardly the time to start second guessing herself for focusing on what-if's. Especially not with the next training plan coming up.

Or rather, lack of a plan.

Both Goetia and Hanneman approached them, the latter of the two stepping up once again.

"In favour of seeing how far you come against an unexpected force, Goetia has decided to change the manner of enemies you will face to better reflect what you will fight in the battle of the Eagle and Lion. He has revealed little to me beyond the characteristics, but I have agreed with his words."

Edelgard frowned but kept her mouth shut.

She understood the essence of keeping them guessing, but the golems were challenging enough when in high numbers.

And now they were to face some other construct of Goetia?

…No, she would not be intimidated by nothing more than words.

"As soon as you are all well and able, Goetia will begin the offensive." Hanneman continued onwards, then paused for a moment before adding on. "And I have decided that this next battle shall be conducted by just the Black Eagles. Goetia will remain with me for the duration of the battle and for future ones, until I am sufficiently of the confidence that you can work together as a cohesive team."

That was problematic.

Not impossible, but problematic.

Edelgard nodded her head at the words of the Professor.

They made sense to her, utilising an asset like Goetia when their own class could barely face off against another force without stepping upon one another's toes was foolish. It was better to solve their current faults before they could be granted improvements. Then they could see where Goetia would fit into the dynamic of the team.

That being said…there was some element of foreboding when it had been mentioned they would fight something that would be similar or equal to their opponents in the battle of the Eagle and Lion.

She assumed they would be human, or thereabouts.

Perhaps some other magical construct that looked and acted less like a walking mass of stone?

"The battle will commence in two minutes."

Her eyes jerked towards Goetia at the announcement, widening slightly before they narrowed.

Given that Hanneman voiced no opposition, she assumed he agreed.

Two minutes.

That would be enough time for her to try and give them some semblance of command before the battle started, at least.

She turned towards her own classmates and moved on them, not allowing any of them to get a word out before she was speaking.

"Myself and Caspar will remain as the frontline fighters." She announced, "As was the same in the previous engagement. Ferdinand, this time you shall keep to the flanks. With your mount, you will ensure the forces do not try and outflank us. Bernadetta and Petra will remain our archers and situate themselves behind Hubert, Linhardt and Dorothea."

She pointed to the three mages, her eyes lingered on Hubert.

"Regardless of what transpires, you are to remain in your position. What we want is to keep our enemies from creating a united front. Use small spells to whittle them down while the archers loosen arrows upon them."

Her eyes darted between all of them for a moment, then rolled her jaw. "And do not break away from the group. We cannot afford to fall apart. Understood?"

Nods of the head all around.

She was satisfied with that, but words were just that.


Only time would tell if they had the actions to back up their declarations.

Which meant all they had to do now was wait.

The minutes dragged past like months.

And then Goetia stepped forwards.

His hand came up and the ground before him glowed, eight distinct marks burned bright upon the ground before pulling themselves up. As they did so, shadows formed and solidified, turning into shapes as the lights rose higher and higher into the air before finally dissipating.

Edelgard blinked.

The shadows looked human.

Eight distinct shadows stood before them, armed with some manner of weapon.

"These are Shadow Servants." Goetia announced. "Formed from my own encounters with the originals. They are nothing more than hollow shells, based upon real individuals. Think of them as moving portraits if you wish…but that matters little. I have lowered them to a sufficient level that they will provide you with ample challenge."

He stepped back towards Hanneman.

"...The battle commences."

Edelgard brought up her axe.

The first shadow nocked an arrow and then kicked off the ground and into the air, the bewildering feat was only cemented when they loosened the arrow towards them and then loosened another one…and then another one.

Before their feet had even touched the ground, the shadow had loosened three arrows upon them.

She stepped backwards, but the arrows were not aimed for her.

Grunts of pain behind her and three distinct voices.

Hubert, Linhardt and Dorothea.

Edelgard wanted to turn around, but was unable to do so.

Mainly because she was now locking blades against the tallest shadow, a two handed sword in his hands, long flowing hair and thick shoulder pauldrons. Those were the only distinct features about this particular one, but there was something about them which made a shudder run up her spine.

A jerked movement.

She blinked, the axe was no longer in her hands, she looked up and saw it twisting through the air.

Her eyes dropped back down.

The last thing she saw was the fist of the shadow flying for her face.

Then there was nothing.